Writing Badly

What I've been doing this week. Working on a story that, upon review, is appallingly horrid. Four thousand words stumbling pathetically through a jumble of cliches and flat characters in an obscure made-up genre that has no idea what it's supposed to do. In short: I feel pretty good.

If you've taught yourself to accept the fact of writing badly, you know what I'm talking about. One's first instinct is to gag and give up with those awful drafts. But a trained writer knows that a first draft is usually dreck.

Rather, your effort should make you proud.

If you can't accept doing something badly, then you won't allow your creative mind the freedom it needs. You won't truly grow in your gifts. This bad story of mine is a complete invention I've never tried before. I have permission to try new things and fail. This is what keeps my creative life exciting. Yay, writer! I cheer myself on.

I'm training myself to "go for it," when I get a story idea. Good or bad, I'll never know until I try. Even after first try, it's hard to tell what might reveal itself in the end. Here's where a sense of humor comes in. And the crucial element: Not Taking The Writer Too Seriously.

Seriously. The writing process can be so mysterious and gratifying that when we achieve a fine piece of writing, we sigh with the wonder of it all. And then we get scared about ever picking up our pens again. We start thinking, How the heck did I ever do that? Or perhaps we continue to write, but try the safe bet, working on the thing we know we can handle. We choose a project identical to what we've achieved. This approach, my friends, is a curse on the life of an artist.

What do you wish to write, but have no idea how? Start it. Do it quickly. For heaven's sake, write it badly!

You can also try painting badly, cooking badly, taking bad pictures, or dancing badly. And especially, singing badly.

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